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Teen Driver Safety Tips: Driving Around Big Trucks

August 1, 2017 by The Sawaya Law Firm

Among all the drivers on the road, those who are most likely to be involved in an accident are teenagers.

One factor that contributes to the high rate of teen driving accidents rate is inexperience. Young drivers can reduce their risk of being involved in crashes by understanding how accidents happen and recognizing situations to avoid.

For example, teen drivers should be aware of the risks when driving beside 18-wheelers. Taking certain precautions can help a young driver avoid an accident with a large truck. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), the following tips can help to keep teens safe when driving around large trucks and other commercial motor vehicles.

Avoid Blind Spots

One of the easiest ways to reduce the risk of being involved in an accident with a large truck is to stay out of the truck’s blind spots.

Young drivers know that cars have blind spots. Tractor trailers have much larger blind spots. These are the areas on all sides of a tractor trailer, where smaller vehicles cannot be seen by the truck driver.
In the large blind spot behind a truck, the truck driver cannot see a car, and the automobile driver cannot see what is happening in front of the truck.

According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, the blind spots for large vehicles extend:

Do not linger in a truck’s blind spots. You are vulnerable to an accident when your vehicle is in a blind spot. If you cannot see the truck driver in the truck’s side mirror, then you should assume the driver cannot see you.

A truck driver may decide to change lanes and be unable to see your vehicle if it is hidden in a blind spot. If you need to pass a truck, do so quickly.

Allow Truckers Extra Room

Another mistake that inexperienced drivers make is failing to give trucks enough room. Drivers may try to pass a truck, then cut back in front of the truck too soon.

Keep in mind that tractor trailers need much more distance to stop than cars. Cutting too close in front of a truck is risky and could cause you to be struck from behind.
You should never cut closely in front of a truck, follow too closely behind a truck (which puts you at risk of an under-ride car accident), or allow a truck to tailgate you. If a truck is following too closely, change lanes and let the truck pass.

Don’t Get Caught in a Squeeze Play

Larger trucks require extra room to make turns. If a truck is flashing a turn signal, don’t be impatient and try to squeeze by. A truck driver may swing wide to the left before making a right-hand turn (and vice versa).
When stopped at an intersection, do not pull forward of the stripe. Trucks need this area to make turns. If you are pulled too far forward at an intersection, the truck trailer may strike your car as the truck completes the turn.

Give the truck the room it needs to turn safely, and stay out of the way.

Pass a Large Truck Safely

Every teen driver needs to understand that safely passing a large truck requires slightly different steps than simply passing another car. Young drivers need to ensure that they can see truck driver in the truck’s side view prior to passing so that the trucker can see them.

Automobile drivers should avoid passing a large truck when it is on a downgrade and likely to pick up speed.

Teens should know that it is never safe to pass an 18-wheeler in the right lane.

Be Patient When You Are Driving Near a Large Truck

It is important for parents to model safe driving behavior around their teens, and show their teens the importance of being patient on the road. Patience is important when you are driving near a large truck, particularly at a point when it may be difficult to pass safely. Large trucks take a longer than passenger vehicles to gain speed. They also need longer distances to brake safely.

When automobile drivers behave aggressively around large trucks—by weaving in traffic or attempting to cut off the truck—the automobile driver may cause distractions that can lead to a severe accident.

To be clear, trying to save a few extra minutes by driving aggressively may cost you extra time in the long run if you are involved in an accident or get flagged for speeding or other unsafe behavior.

Always Wear Your Seat Belt

As the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) explains, large trucks often are involved in fatal accidents due to their size.

When an 18-wheeler collides with a smaller passenger vehicle, the size and weight of the truck—often in excess of 10,000 pounds—can produce devastating damage. It is extremely important for drivers and passengers in automobiles and other passenger vehicles to wear a seat belt. It is the most important safety precaution that you can take to protect yourself in the event of a crash.

If your teenager is driving, it is important that she or he always wear a seat belt and require any other teen passengers to buckle up, as well.

Drive Responsibly

In addition to the above, use your head and drive responsibly. That means limiting distractions, driving sober, and following traffic laws.

CONTACT A PERSONAL INJURY ATTORNEY IN COLORADO

Do you have questions about teen driver safety tips? An experienced personal injury attorney in Colorado can answer your questions today.

Michael G Sawaya

Michael established The Sawaya Law Firm in 1977 and built it into one of the largest personal injury law firms in Colorado, with more than 20 lawyers and 80 staff members serving clients from five offices located in Denver, Greeley and Colorado Springs. Throughout its history, the firm has stayed true to its 12 Core Values, which emphasize excellence in advocacy and a commitment to providing outstanding client service. Michael studied sociology and economics as an undergraduate student at The Colorado College, and he earned his law degree from the Texas Tech University School of Law. In addition to being involved in several legal and community organizations, Michael enjoys playing music and cooking, and he has written a book on spiritual matters.

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